By Nefretari Powell ’19
Taking a look into the legal process, Ms. Joan Rowe’s True Crimes class discovered the many parts of the court system. Their class trip to the King Supreme Criminal Court on December 5 provided an insightful learning experience for the students.
“For me it was rewarding because I realized the students got so much out of the trip,” Ms. Rowe said. “They got to see the prosecutor prosecuting a case, the defense attorney defending his client, the judge in action, the jury in action and all the other people involved.”
Students went through metal detectors when they entered the court and were shown weapons that were taken from people. Then, they were taken on a tour of an empty courtroom and learned about the function of the court. Lastly, they were able to sit through a live trial.
Rawan Elkhauly ’18 described the trial as fascinating, feeling as if she were sitting through a scene in the show, Law & Order.
In the trial, a man was accused of shooting an innocent woman to death. Since this was a normal, everyday case, it was treated as such. Therefore, the jury was told that they could not talk about the case to their families, amongst each other or even search anything about the case online until all evidence was settled. There was an opening statement from the prosecutor, who is the lawyer who conducts a criminal case against the defendant.
“The prosecutor was really good because she had a strong case and she was confident with how she spoke and what she presented,” Elkhauly explained. “She effectively showed that the defendant was guilty.”
After the prosecutor spoke, the defense attorney, the lawyer who presented the case for the man facing criminal charges, explained that his client killed the lady by accident in self-defense against someone else. Then three witnesses went up to testify.
Yvensky St. Pierre ’18 felt that the defendant’s case was weak and that there wasn’t much evidence to support his defendant side.
Analyzing the information presented on each side, the students found it fascinating as well as surprising. The man was convicted ten years ago, but since he was found wrongfully convicted, the trial did not continue. However, the District Attorney was given the chance to convict the man a second time. When the lawyers, the defendant and witnesses were describing the scenario, they seemed to recall everything perfectly.
“It was crazy that it happened ten years ago, yet they remembered every single detail,” St. Pierre ’18 said.
Although the students did not sit through the entire trial to see the outcome, they were appreciative of such an experience.
Safia Hamouche ’18 said, “Personally I’ve always want to become a lawyer and seeing lawyers in their action is something I want to do since it is a passion of mine.”
Sonia Trelles ’18 described the trip as a spectacular adventure since she felt like she was actually there as she was able to see the jury, the lawyers and the witnesses testifying.
Ms. Rowe offered similar views.
“Reading is one thing, but seeing it live is almost as if we were taken to the time where the crime was committed,” she said.
She also explained that the the trip opens up career opportunities for students who are interested in the law. One of the cops who testified was working in a precinct, but since then he’s been promoted to the Hate Crime Task Force. This story can encourage students to pursue their career choices since they can see the progression and the promotion of people in the same enforcement as they want to be in.
In addition, the trip helped students see how gun violence affect real people.
“They got to see both sides of the spectrum also got to see how gun violence affects families and communities not just the people firing shots,” Ms. Rowe said.
After going on the trip, the students and Ms. Rowe felt enlightened and were glad that they went. The purpose was to further explain and demonstrate what was learned in class which are lessons about murders, trials, serial killers and law enforcement in general.
“You learn motives of serial killers,” Alina Ali ’18 said. “The best thing about this class is that it will make you think.”
Students also mentioned that the True Crimes class is a good class for seniors to take since it is a good college prep class.